Monday, April 20, 2009

Palm Tree

OMG...I feel like writing! I have been thinking about this all day though and I have to get it out before I can do anything else.


Before I decided to go back to school and complete my bachelor's degree (well before I could pay off Emory and get my transcripts to transfer) I lived with my ex-boyfriend in a run down apartment complex in Miami. I was forced to get over my fear of roaches by living there because otherwise I would have spent those years cowering in the corner and crying constantly. But that's not the point.

So I'd moved to Miami to be with my boyfriend and he was the only person I knew there. So when we broke up and he moved out I was totally alone in the city. I was a telecommuter so I worked from home and didn't even have co-workers I could call friends for at least part of the day. Still, I didn't spend much time crying and cowering in the corner, I sat on the back porch instead and stared at a palm tree.

I would get so frustrated because I couldn't think of a poetic way to describe this tree. I would stare at it in silence and beat myself up inside because I thought REAL poets wrote about trees lol. This was only 3-4 years ago! So I'm staring at this tree everyday, thinking I'd have to write a poem about this particular tree if I was ever going to be a poet while the 600 (exaggeration) kids that lived in the apartment above mine were hungry, dirty, and obviously neglected. Their mother was never home and when she was she was either drunk/high and yelling, getting in fist fights with her various boyfriends, and screaming obscenities at her kids. I heard it all from my chair on the patio in front of that damn tree.

They weren't allowed to go outside when their mother wasn't home (so they were hardly ever outside) so they had their fun by throwing trash down off of the balcony and fighting with any neighbors (including me) who dared to reprimand them. In my first workshop after returning to school, I wrote a bad poem about those kids. I scrapped the palm tree poems when my professor destroyed all my misconceptions about poetry. Crazy how disillusioned I was and still might be.

One of the poems in my MFA writing sample featured the roaches though. They "break dance in the blink and the buzz of dying fluorescent lights"...those bastards.

So lately I've been scared, suffering a litte from imposter syndrome, worried that maybe I'd given all I have to give in my writing sample and that I have nothing else to say.

Fear is my palm tree now.

(and scene!)
Yeah, so, I have a fresh notebook and a sack of new pens so I'm going to see what comes out. Maybe I'll write a good ole palm tree poem just to get the juices flowing again lol. "Fresh Notebook and a Sack of New Pens" sounds like a rap song to me. Well, the hook to a rap song. For nerds. The hook to a rap song for nerds.

But oh! I can't get Jericho Brown's poems from Please out of my head. When I visited IU one of the students let me borrow the book so I could know what was going on in class the next day. I read it in like an hour and didn't breathe until the end of it I think. So I need to buy my own copy because my memory is not doing those poems justice.


bethany said...

I agree with you that there is just something about trees that we poets can't leave alone! Some trees have so much character. I am writing a poem about Lake Michigan right now. It's probably in the same vein of disillusionment (i.e. real poets write about vast bodies of water). But hey, it makes me happy. :)

Cheers to poems about nature.

unsaid said...

No, your poem about Lake Michigan is probably outstanding and meaningful. I wanted to write a poem about this tree and nothing else. No metaphors, no nothing, just a pretty little description of a tree. My professor had a category of poetry don'ts called "That's pretty, but what does it all mean?" where my type of tree poem would fit lol